Main Dish/ Recipe/ Soup

Clam Chowder

April 7, 2018 (Last Updated: December 23, 2019)

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Thick and Creamy Clam Chowder

Homemade clam chowder topped with crispy bacon and green chives.

We just returned from a spring break trip to the Oregon Coast. The weather was mostly cold, although we did have two sunny days! We didn’t mind because we missed the snow storms that hit back home and we ate lots of clam chowder wherever we went! 

Flying a kite on the Oregon Coast

Besides eating lots of clam chowder, we also flew kites, the boys skim boarded in the waves and we went clamming for Purple Vanish Clams. The clamming itself wasn’t difficult, but these are clams that need to be cleaned and that was very time consuming.  We had a lot of clams since the limit is 72 clams per person per day.

Rod asked if I wanted to go clamming for a second day. I told him to clean a bucket of clams and then let me know what he thought.  Needless to say we didn’t go out again!

We had plenty of clams to bring home and plenty to make clam chowder with!

Clamming on the Oregon Coast

Clamming for purple varnish clams

What ingredients do I need to make clam chowder?

  • bacon
  • onion
  • celery 
  • flour
  • chicken broth
  • clam juice
  • bay leaf
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • potatoes
  • clams
  • half and half (cream)

The fresh catch of purple varnish clams on the Oregon Coast

All of this fresh deliciousness was turned into a delicious pot of Clam Chowder!  I used fresh clams, but you could easily use canned clams too. Use whatever is available for you.

How do I use purple varnish clams?

To use fresh purple varnish clams, you need to first soak them in salt water overnight. This helps remove extra sand. In the morning boil a pot of water and add the clams. They will immediately begin popping open. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice water. Next you remove the meat from the shell and clean ’em. 

My understanding is each type of clam has it’s own cleaning methods. If you are using a different type of fresh clam, you will want to see how they should be cleaned.

My recipe calls for clam juice. You can either buy bottled clam juice or use the liquid from your steamed clams. I did not save the juice from my clams. Since we were on vacation, I didn’t want to transport liquid back home with me.

Spoonful of hot clam chowder topped with bacon and served in a white bowl.

We love foraging for food. We have also fished for Walleye and made Beer Battered Fish, and Pan Fried Walleye.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

More Soup Recipes to Try:

Enchilada Soup – All the wonderful flavors of enchiladas in a soup!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup – The name says it all!

Cheesy Broccoli Soup – Yummy broccoli with cheddar cheese.

Creamy Tomato Soup – Perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Corn Chowder – Perfect for lunch or dinner anytime of the year.

White Chicken Chili – A delicious bowl of chili.

Creamy Potato Soup – Filled with potatoes and topped with bacon.


Don’t forget to PIN for later! A white bowl filled with new england clam chowder

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or snap a picture and tag me on Instagram #beyondthechickencoop

Spoonful of hot clam chowder made with fresh Purple Varnish Clams

Clam Chowder

Rich and creamy clam chowder 
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people
Calories 194 kcal


  • 4 slices bacon (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup celery (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups clam juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 red potatoes (cut into 1/2" cubes)
  • 1 cup clams (chopped)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup half-n-half
  • salt to taste


  • 1/4 cup crispy bacon bits
  • fresh chopped parsley
  • oyster crackers


  • In a large soup pot, cook bacon until nearly crispy. Add onions and celery. Continue cooking until onions are soft.
  • Stir in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Add clam juice, bay leaf, thyme and pepper.  Add chopped potatoes. Cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. Stir every few minutes to avoid scorching.  If mixture becomes too thick, add 1/2 cup water.
  • Stir in clams, milk and half-n-half.  Heat to a simmer. Do not bring to a boil. Taste and add salt if needed.
  • Serve with additional bacon bits, fresh parsley and oyster crackers. 


I used red potatoes and left most of the skin on. You can peel skin if desired. 
Add 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon salt as needed. The bacon adds a lot of saltiness and you may find no additional salt is needed.
For a thicker chowder, substitute whole milk for half-n-half. 
Chowder can be made ahead of time and cooled and stored in fridge. Slowly reheat over medium low heat, stirring often to avoid scorching. If chowder has become too thick, just add a bit more half-n-half to desired consistency.


Calories: 194kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 6gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 599mgPotassium: 610mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 190IUVitamin C: 16.6mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 1.2mg
Keyword clam chowder, clam chowder recipe, clam chowder with bacon, clam chowder with fresh clams, new england clam chowder recipe, purple varnish clams
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


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  • Reply
    April 12, 2018 at 11:51 am

    I would love to try this. I have heard of clam chowder before, but never had any, problem is I have never seen clams in my life, they are not something I can get around here… 🙁 But I would love them, I am pretty sure, I love seafood.

  • Reply
    Nicoletta Sugarlovespices
    April 9, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Oh, to have a bowl of that delicious clam chowder made with fresh clams! It looks amazing, so creamy and thick and with nice chunks. Such a great experience -even if tiresome- to go clamming! Lovely trip, hurray for the 2 sunny days!! 🙂

    • Reply
      April 13, 2018 at 5:21 am

      We just haven’t been having a great spring so the sunshine was very welcomed!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    April 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

    5 stars
    My husband will be a very happy guy when I surprise him with a pot of this!! Your trip sounds amazing!

    • Reply
      April 13, 2018 at 5:21 am

      We had a great time! The homemade clam chowder was a great end to it all!

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    April 9, 2018 at 5:11 am

    What an awesome experience! I have never been clamming before, and now I want to put it on my list of things to do. I’m also laughing at the idea of bringing the clam liquid back with you. “No, officer, that’s just my clam steaming liquid.” Haha! Seriously, though, I love this post and I love that you included the clamming photos. I’ve never made a good clam chowder, and I definitely need to fix that soon. Glad you had fun out on vacation!

    • Reply
      April 13, 2018 at 5:20 am

      I’m ready to go back and do it all again!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    April 8, 2018 at 6:36 am

    5 stars
    Glad y’all had a great trip Kathy, and had fun clamming! This chowder looks awesome and it’s one of our favorites!

    • Reply
      April 12, 2018 at 5:18 am

      It just doesn’t get much better than a delicious bowl of clam chowder!

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    April 7, 2018 at 11:51 am

    5 stars
    How cool is that that you picked your own clams?! I make seafood chowder regularly, but have never made clam chowder! Looks like something I’d love to try! Considering that’s it snowed and then rained today, a bowl of comfort food is in order 😉 Hope you’re having a lovely weekend 🙂

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